LONG ROAD TO MERCY (Atlee Pine #1) - by David Baldacci

LONG ROAD TO MERCY - David Baldacci
Published: October 2018 - Macmillan.
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary
Pages: 404.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

‘Eeny, meeny, miny, moe . . .’

It is thirty years since FBI special agent Atlee Pine’s twin sister, Mercy, was taken from the room they shared as young children. Notorious serial killer Daniel James Tor, was caught and convicted of other murders, and while there’s no proof, Atlee believes he knows what happened to Mercy. Tor still resides in a high-security prison in Colorado. Assigned to the remote wilds of the western United States, Atlee has never stopped the search for her sister, and, wracked with survivor’s guilt, she has spent her life hunting down those who hurt others. She will always ask herself, ‘Why her, and not me?’. Now, Atlee is called in to investigate a case in the Grand Canyon when a mule is found dead with strange carvings on its body, and its rider missing. She knows about killers and perhaps understands them better than any profiler in the FBI, but it soon becomes clear that she will need to put her skills to the ultimate test in this investigation.

It seems that Atlee will now have to confront a new monster. And face the one of her nightmares.

I've read one Baldacci book before, and while I didn't love it, I was eager to try this one because of the promise of a kickass action heroine. The novel sounded great. 

I enjoy Baldacci's writing and his dialogue is always fast and terse. It's entertaining. But one thing I cannot stand is how he always falls into the trap of info-dumping. The first chapter, especially, is literally all info-dumping. It's excruciating to read. I'm here waiting for Atlee to confront the man who took her sister, and between their sparse exchange we get heaps of her backstory and his. That's not what you want in a first chapter!  It also would've been nicer to have Atlee's backstory seamlessly shown throughout the rest of the story, instead of exposited...

The plot is epic. The pace is quick, the action is constant, and everything is always on the go. In many ways, the novel is like a classic action thriller film: it's over-the-top, the situations are often cliche action thriller givens, and it's larger than life. But I think that's fine. Yes you have to suspend disbelief, but it's obvious that Baldacci is having tons of fun and it's easy to be swept away with him. It's a romp of an action thriller.

Justice. It wasn’t about the greater good. It was about what was right and wrong on an individual basis. Person by person. Because if you neglected the people, the idea of a greater good was a pipe dream created by those whose idea of the “greater good” almost always tended to favour themselves and people like them.”

Atlee is a female Jack Reacher. She's built like a fighting machine, she's no nonsense, and she's stronger than most men. She's larger than life, no doubt about it. But while I loved seeing her hold her own and being badass, I also wish she'd had more flaws. She's rather one-dimensional. The other characters often put her on a pedestal, and more than once Baldacci mentions how "incredibly strong" she is. It's eye-roll worthy. It's also a trait I find annoying in both male and female characters.

The secondary cast are strong, too. They're given enough dimension to be interesting, but at the same they're also forgettable as soon as you close the book.

My favourite part of the story, by far, is the relationship between Atlee and Carol. Their female friendship is so healthy, they always have each other's backs, and I loved seeing Atlee respect Carol. So often the "tough girl" puts other girls down if they're not as masculine as she is, but here Atlee clearly values Carol's intelligence. Both women bring a lot to the story and it's so wonderful to watch them interact.

Long Road To Mercy is a swiftly moving action thriller that pulls out all the stops. A larger-than-life heroine, strong female friendship, and frequent action makes this book read like a classic action movie.